Mt. Iliamna Coughs Up Some Secrets

Working with the team members of the Alaska Volcano Observatory team as they studied Mt. Iliamna was not only a learning experience but we walked away with new friends.

Mt. Iliamna

This season found Theresa and I back in Alaska at the Snug Harbor Cannery to support the AVO team while they studied Mt. Iliamna.

Mt. Iliamna volcano is a broad, deeply dissected and highly altered, roughly cone-shaped mountain at the north end of a 5-km-long ridge. Most of the volcano is covered by perennial snow and ice. Numerous glaciers radiate from the summit area and large avalanche deposits occur on the flanks of the volcano, particularly down the Umbrella Glacier on the southwest side of Mt. Iliamna.

According to the team, Mt. Iliamna is one of the least active in Alaska and as such one of the least studied. But that was all to change during the two weeks we were all on the island. Unusually warm and dry weather resulted in the team being able to fly out in the field every single day. Not once did they have to scrub flights due to weather.

Wild and scenic rivers

wild and scenic rivers project a huge success

As a team, we more than tripled the amount of data to date. We’ve received 573 completed surveys from 91 rivers this year, compared to 183 surveys from 41 rivers in 2020.

We’re proud to have been a part of this effort! We’re working on articles and videos so stay tuned. 

Alaska Volcano Observatory

The AVO is staffed by 22 full-time scientists, technicians, and administrators. However, they weren’t the only ones that came out during the two-week study. There were volcanologists from Colorado and southern California that also came out for a portion of that time.

The AVO is responsible for assessing the full range of potential hazards at specific volcanic centers. This effort involves studying a volcano to determine the style and frequency of past eruptions and the potential impacts of future activity. Hazards assessments include descriptions of the history of a given volcano, explanations of likely eruption scenarios, and determination of probable impact zones for the range of expected hazards.

Each person or small team were there to study a different aspect of the Mt. Iliamna volcano. One of the most interesting, and just plain geeky, was measuring differences in the gravitational pull around the volcano to find magma dooms.

Working with the team members of the Alaska Volcano Observatory team as they studied Mt. Iliamna was not only a learning experience but we walked away with new friends.

Working with the team members of the Alaska Volcano Observatory team as they studied Mt. Iliamna was not only a learning experience but we walked away with new friends.

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Follow the team’s latest news and social feeds here. You’ll also find links to articles on the latest developments regarding citizen-science and the conservation of our oceans. 

We also use this feed for updates from the field as we pursue our own science and the occasional short video clip.

And please, feel free to join in the conversation. We’d love to hear what you’re up to as well. 

Latest Instagram

Enjoying a bit of warmth on a cold clear winter's evening on the Olympic Coast. We don't get many days like this in the winter. ...

Setting up camp at Toleak Beach on the Washington coast. We took advantage of the clear but cold winter weather and hiked in the day before our #COASST bird survey. ...

Snug Harbor Cannery on the southern half of Chisik Island. I spent a few years guiding out of the Alaskan treasure. ...

Just published our latest adventure - Hit and Run at Bear Creek - You can find the link in my bio up top. ...

At the mouth of the Columbia River stands the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. Still active, she’s been guiding mariners since 1856. ...

A multitude of grey defines Lake Crescent during our latest #COASST survey. ...

The old Navy torpedo warehouse located on the grounds of Washington’s Manchester State Park. ...

While out dodging the rain showers, came across this beautiful Amanita muscaria near camp. The cap was a big as a dinner plate! ...

During our recent science trip to Suiattle River for the Wild and Scenic River Project, we were treated to these wonderful views. Here we're enjoying the winter's day with Mt. Baker in the background. ...

Our collection site for the Wild and Scenic River project. We grabbed river samples as well as tested ph, dissolved O2 and other data points. Turned out to be a great day in the field. ...

Heading out to start the Winter series of collection for the Wild and Scenic River project for Adventure Scientist. ...

These Nootka Rose caught my eye in camp this morning. Sitting here enjoying the fire listening to the geese overhead as they fly south. ...

Bear Canyon just outside Morton Washington is a little pocket of pristine wilderness. ...

Theresa doing her best to imitate the North Head Lighthouse. ...

A bridge span over the Green River. I love the contrast between the texture of the bridge and the fall colors of the background. ...

Here's a sunset from our recent #COASST bird survey at First Beach. The next day it poured rain. I measured over two inches just that afternoon. ...

Snug Harbor Outpost

The usual suspects were all present at the Cannery this year and it’s always good to come ‘home’ and rekindle relationships. We swapped stories about engagements, passings, man overboard and the usual, “You won’t believe this…” stories.

climate change

The cannery looked much the same despite this being her centennial year. The biggest issue we had to contend with this year was that the waterfall we rely on for our freshwater was just about running dry. 

The same weather that allowed the AVO to conduct such a rapid assessment of Mt. Iliamna was also threatening to dry our water source.

This forced us to rig a storage system and pump to make sure we had the necessary water for daily use. I’ve only been going to the island for about 10 years, but those who have been coming out for decades mentioned that this was the first time they had seen the waterfall just about dried out.

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